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California State University, Northridge


There was never any doubt about where I would go to college. I grew up within bicycling distance of California State University, Northridge — or CSUN, as we called it — and it never occurred to me that I to go anywhere else. What I didn’t know is what I would major in.

I was very much a science fiction and fantasy fan growing up. I distinctly remember watching the first episode of Star Trek when it premiered in 1966, reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was twelve years old, and going to see 2001: A Space Odyssey with my friends on my birthday. Not only did I want to immerse myself in these worlds, I wanted to contribute to them as well. I would draw pictures of characters from Middle-Earth, write Star Trek stories, and film science fiction movies with a Super-8 camera. And so when I entered college, I wanted to study either art, writing, or filmmaking, but I couldn’t decide on which.

However, when I went to preregister for my classes, I saw the long line of people waiting in line at the Radio-Television-Film Department, I realized that not all of these people were going to find the jobs they wanted, and I decided to just pursue General Education courses until I found a more practical major to study.

I took class in Introduction to Computing just to fulfill my liberal arts requirements, but as I sat in the computer lab waiting print out my homework assignment on the shared printer, I began to type out a Star Trek game. It suddenly occurred to me that a computer could be a creative medium just as is an easel, typewriter, or movie camera. Mathematics could be used to create graphics, logic diagrams were one way to tell a branching story, and coding was essentially directing the computer. The next day I changed my major from Undecided to Computer Science.

The following year, my COBOL professor later took note of how I was using the college’s mainframe to print out images of the Starship Enterprise, and he offered me a job as a clerk in an Apple Computer store he owned, the second computer store ever to open up in the Los Angeles area. It was working in that store where I met the person who got me involved in game development.